By Janis Rosenberg – President of Unleashing the Possibilities, Inc.

Very few people take the time to understand what really goes on behind the doors of their local animal shelter, let alone question the actions of it. Most folks just assume that all is well, and that the shelter is place akin to a local “motel” where, after short stays, dogs and cats and other critters are connected to their permanent homes. But is that what really happens in every case?

Most likely if your pet gets out and is lost – they will end up at the local animal shelter. Imagine that the story I am about to tell you is about your family and your beloved fur baby that escaped when the gate got left open by accident.

Not too long ago an animal control officer picked up a stray dog. Often times this is done with a snare-pole (a long ridged pole with a cable looped at one end) and brought it
into the shelter. Upon intake the officer made note that the dog was fearful to the point of showing aggressive behavior. The next day while making the rounds and cleaning
kennels another officer noted that the dog was showing aggression when that officer used the snare-pole to move the dog during its kennel cleaning. “Dog immediately
snapped at the snare pole and continued to snap at the pole during morning moving. Dog is very unusually quiet, made no noise other than teeth clamping. Working on
rescue already for this dog. Ok to continue as rescue only unless dog becomes more aggressive.”

Meanwhile, you are at home frantically phoning friends, trying to find a picture of your beloved dog to put onto a poster to put up in the neighborhood. You take to social media with your plea, and you are checking the various websites to see if your dog has been brought to a nearby animal shelter so you can immediately go get them. But nothing.
No sightings, no listing of found animals looks like your dog. Your heart sinks.

Back at the shelter the dog is sitting in stray hold (meaning he is not available for adoption and wont be due to being fearful) and there he sits for weeks, just over a month
he is sitting in stray hold. The shelter staff determines that it is time to kill the dog due to medical issues – even though the medical issues are treatable. Hearing this, a student at the shelter, familiar and knowledgeable about dogs, says that she will rescue the dog, avoiding the killing that would have been done.

The girl rescuing the dog mentions that the dog seems lame in the back right leg. Staff say they will take an x-ray while they neuter the animal. But no x-ray is done and the
shelter staff sends the dog home with its new owner.

Back at the house you and the family have just about given up on finding your fur baby. under the table at dinner. You have stopped bringing it up because it is just too
upsetting to think about and you don’t want to upset the kids.

Once out of the shelter the dog continued to not want to be touched and lame in the back right leg. The new owner decides to take the dog to her local vet where she finds
out that the femur is out of its socket and needs surgery. $1500 in surgery? The vet confirms by showing how he can feel it during the exam and gives the x-ray to her.

After some investigating and help of some friends it turns out that the dog was injured while at the shelter. Shelter staff just ignored the problem and let the dog sit in pain (a lot of pain as this is a very painful thing to go through, especially in the stressful environment of an animal shelter). Then simply handed the dog (YOUR DOG) over to a
stranger. Shelter staff just never got around to listing the dog on local find sites to be reclaimed by the owner (YOU).

Back at home the family grieves and when they feel they are finally ready they take a trip to the local animal shelter to find a new fur baby – they do. The same shelter that
mistreated, neglected to give medical care to, was about to kill, and then pawned your dog off to some stranger while in pain and needing surgery.

Could this sort of thing really happen at our animal shelter? Sadly, it could and it does.

Always speak up, the animals cannot. Those of us who care about the welfare of our animals should never be afraid to speak up on their behalf. Federal law protects animal
shelter workers, volunteers, and rescues against retaliation. Animal activists and citizens have the right to speak out on conditions in animal shelters.

Janis Rosenberg serves as President of Unleashing the Possibilities, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) corporation, raising private funds to assist Yolo County in the planning and construction of a new, state-of-the-art animal shelter. Tax deductible donations can be made for this purpose. Go to to learn more and to make donations to build the new shelter.

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